Maricopa County appoints Julie Willoughby to House seat following Liz Harris’ expulsion
May 5, 2023, 11:58 AM
(Facebook Photo/Julie Willoughby for LD 13)
PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Friday appointed Julie Willoughby to the House seat that was occupied by Liz Harris before her expulsion.
The 4-1 vote by the board made Willoughby, a Republican, the newest legislator in the southeast Valley’s District 13.
“Good luck and God speed to Ms. Willoughby as she represents her district and the state,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman Clint Hickman said during the special meeting.
Willoughby, a nurse, narrowly lost to Harris in the November 2022 election.
Harris was ousted April 12 for letting a witness make wide-ranging accusations of bribery during a February hearing about election reforms.
The resolution to expel Harris was approved by a 46-13 vote. It needed a minimum of 40 votes – two-thirds of the GOP-controlled House – to pass.
Harris was nominated for the seat April 17, along with Willoughby and Steve Steele, despite her expulsion.
By law, Harris had to be replaced by a Republican. One legislative opening remains, with the board still to replace Democratic state Sen. Raquel Terán, who resigned April 13 to run for Rep. Ruben Gallego’s congressional seat.
The resolution to expel Harris said the first-term lawmaker knew in advance Jaqueline Breger was going to make the criminal allegations and failed to provide the information for review beforehand, in violation of House regulations.
Breger, an insurance agent from Scottsdale, attributed her allegations to a report written by John Thaler, who she said was an attorney with a background in fraud investigations.
Thaler alleged, without reliable evidence, that two women working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel used fraudulent mortgage documents to launder money to a wide range of officials, both Republicans and Democrats. Online sleuths discovered the women Thaler accused of facilitating the fraud were his ex-wife and her mother.
Thaler has a history of filing lawsuits accusing them of carrying out wide-ranging conspiracies. A federal judge last year dismissed one of his lawsuits, calling it “a delusional and fantastical narrative.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.